Three Questions With Elena Bossi

I’m a fan of recently-established Dunedin ebook publisher Rosa Mira Books, for several reasons:

– I like the publisher, Penelope Todd
– I like the idea of a New Zealand publisher tackling ebooks head-on, rather than side-stepping nervously around them, and I want to see that effort succeed
– They publish good books.

But there is a fragment of self-interest in there as well. Rosa Mira Books launched with the short story collection Slightly Peculiar Love Stories, which includes my story “Said Sheree” and lots of fine stories from New Zealand and international authors.

One of my favourite stories in the collection is “The Ache”, by Argentine writer Elena Bossi, translated into English by Georgia Birnie. It distils romantic yearning down into two lovely pages.

I recently asked Elena three questions about her writing, and here are her answers. English is not Elena’s first language, and so she asked me to tidy up her answers for an audience of predominantly native English speakers. I have tried to do so without losing the flavour of her replies.

Three Questions For Elena Bossi

1. Besides the quality of the fiction, one of the things I like the most about “Slightly Peculiar Love Stories” is the wide range of countries the authors come from. How did a writer from Argentina become involved in an anthology of love stories edited by a New Zealander?

I knew Penelope, and many of the other “Peculiar” writers, from the International Writing Program in Iowa in 2007. Of course, all of them read me in English translations. That’s it. Penelope and Kavery Nambisan (from India) helped me a lot with translations. As did two different students from the Translation Workshop of the University of Iowa.

2. Your story “The Ache”, which is one of my favourites in the anthology, was translated from the original Spanish into English by Georgia Birnie. Do you enjoy the process of having your work translated?

I really do like the process of translation, it is actually like reading another story again and now I can read it as other. It is very “peculiar” to see our own words as the words of others and this make me think that our words are always strange in some way. We have some strange insight which is a little scary too.

3. In New Zealand at least, the publishing industry is changing rapidly, and all but the best-established writers have to be adaptable to keep getting their work published. Is now a good time to be a writer in Argentina?

I think a better time to be a writer in Argentina was during the ’60s and the ’70s. After this time, and also because of the military government, a commercial change began which concentrated all the little publishers we had into big ones and began to be more interested in selling than in literature. The figure of the publisher/editor disappeared and a regular manager took the place.

Now, little by little, big international publishers are losing space and a lot of more or less familiar publishing houses are coming again. So I hope things are going to change a little but the volume in our bookstores is too big (more than 10,000 books) to allow authors who are not very best sellers to stay on tables enough time. So, we can say it is quite difficult to live like a writer. A little easier, to make a living writing children’s literature.

Buy One Or The Rat Gets It!

And no, I am not talking about Men Briefly Explained. (A rat did take up residence at our house a while back – the cat brought it in, let it go, and proved completely inadequate to remove it. In the end, I played “St. Anger” at it until it ran away.)

I am talking about this rat, here:

Rattie has moved on from occupying Slightly Peculiar Love Stories to occupying Rosa Mira Books as a whole, and he has begun to make marketing decisions – like halving the price of both Slightly Peculiar Love Stories and The Glass Harmonica for this week and next week.

But that’s not all. The rat has let power go to his head, and he’s making publisher Penelope Todd draw a cute little picture of him each time you buy one of these ebooks. But, like a rodent Scheherazade who has had a gender change and isn’t married to the sultan and er I think I’ll stop now, his continued portayal depends on you, gentle reader, buying ebooks from Rosa Mira Books.

You don’t need an ebook reader to read them – you just need a computer. They are amazingly easy to read on the screen. And they are bloody good.

So go to it. Take the plunge. Buy an ebook from Rosa Mira Books, and keep the rat in cute little outfits.

Book Review: Slightly Peculiar Love Stories

(Disclaimer: Slightly Peculiar Love Stories includes my story “Said Sheree”, which I have not attempted to review!)

Slightly Peculiar Love Stories is the second book, and first short story collection, published by Rosa Mira Books, the new New Zealand publishing house set up by Dunedin author Penelope Todd earlier this year. I was honoured to have a story included in the collection, and have blogged about that previously.

There are a couple of things that should attract any reader to Slightly Peculiar Love Stories. One is that really cool cover. Another is the really rather extraordinary range of New Zealand and international authors who have contributed new or reprinted stories to this anthology:

  • From New Zealand, we have Craig Cliff, Sue Wootton, Janis Freegard, Tina Makereti, Bryan Walpert, Coral Atkinson, Claire Beynon, Latika Vasil, Linda Niccol, Maxine Alterio, Susannah Poole, and Tim Jones.
  • International authors include Alex Epstein (Israel), Angelo R. Lacuesta (Philippines), Brenda Sue Cowley (USA), Christos Chrissopoulos (Greece), Elena Bossi (Argentina), Lawrence K. L. Pun (Hong Kong), Salman Masalha (Israel), and Tania Hershman (UK).

That’s quite the lineup, but the proof of any short story collection is in the reading. The good news is that there is a lot of good reading here, and a lot of different takes on love. My favourites at the moment include:

  • The sets of short-short stories by Alex Epstein and by Tania Hershman (four apiece)
  • Janis Freegard’s ingenious and moving “Mill”, which won the BNZ Katherine Mansfield Award in 2001
  • Elena Bossi’s lovely and poignant “The Ache”
  • Claire Beynon’s magical “Trapeze Artist”
  • Angelo R. Lacuesta’s “Space Oddity”

– but there are so many other good stories here that I imagine your favourites will differ from mine.

There’s something I haven’t mentioned about Slightly Peculiar Love Stories: it’s an ebook. The good news is, you don’t need an ebook reader to read it. I read it on my computer in PDF format, and (as a person who doesn’t generally like to read large amounts of text on-screen) I found it easy and enjoyable to read. The fonts are crisp and the layout clear.

So, if you don’t have an ebook reader, don’t let that put you off. Slightly Peculiar Love Stories is easy to read on a computer screen, and more to the point, it is well worth reading, because there is a lot of good fiction in here.

How To Buy My Books: Anarya’s Secret, Transported, Voyagers, And More

Welcome! Since I’m between blog posts at the moment, here are details about how to buy some of my books. You’ll find my recent posts listed on the left-hand side of this blog.

You can find details of all these books at my author page.

You’ll also find my work in these recent anthologies:

Slightly Peculiar Love Stories Is Launched


At 5.30pm Wednesday, New Zealand time, Rosa Mira Books launched Slightly Peculiar Love Stories, an anthology of 26 love stories by New Zealand and international authors, edited by Penelope Todd, and including my tale of love and literary funding, “Said Sheree”*

What a range of authors! They come from Israel, the Philippines, the UK, the USA, Greece, Argentina, and Hong Kong, as well as Aotearoa. Some are internationally well-known; some are well known within their own countries; some are near the start of their literary careers, and some well along in those careers. One is pseudonymous.

I haven’t read the anthology yet, but from what I’ve read about the contributors and their stories on the excellent Rosa Mira Books blog, I expect some of these stories to be slightly peculiar, and some deeply peculiar. Which is appropriate, because that’s the way love is.

I’m delighted to be in the company of so many writers I greatly admire. Please raise a glass to Slightly Peculiar Love Stories. Please help it make its way into the world.

*First published in Transported.

Good Things Happen Too

When I’m not doing my day job, I spend a lot of my time dealing with and thinking about things that aren’t good – plans to fuck up the climate or fuck up our communities (and the climate) in the name of profit and an outdated, Father Knows Best view of this country’s future.

Bad things happen in the writing side of my life too – rejections, bright ideas that don’t work out – but lots of good things happen too, and it’s always great to come back to them and see how different projects are progressing.

So, here are some good waves that are on the crest of breaking.

Slightly Peculiar Love Stories

Penelope Todd of Rosa Mira Books has pulled together a remarkable range of authors to contribute to this anthology, which does what it says on the tin: love stories, with a twist. I’m delighted that my story “Said Sheree” – a love story, with literary funding – is included in that number.

Slightly Peculiar Love Stories will be available as an ebook very soon. In the runup to its release, Penelope has been running a series of guest posts by the anthology’s contributors on the Rosa Mira Books blog. They make entertaining reading, and great tasters for the book!

Tales For Canterbury

I’ve blogged about fundraising anthology Tales for Canterbury, which includes my story “Sign of the Tui”, before. It’s now out in the world and doing very well. There are a couple of excellent reasons to buy it: one is the continuing need for donations to Christchurch earthquake relief, which is where the book’s proceeds will be going; and one is the excellence of the stories.

I’ve banged on about this topic long enough, so instead of paying attention to me, I suggest you check out this reader review of the anthology from LibraryThing or listen to this recent Radio NZ Arts on Sunday interview about the anthology with two of the authors represented, Amanda Fitzwater and Matt Cowens.

Then I suggest you head straight over to the publisher’s website and get yourself a copy.